Aug. 26, 2014 at 11:52 AM ET
Yeah, yeah, we know—according to the cute cartoons on Facebook, "leftover wine" is an oxymoron. But in the real world, not the social-media world, we've all had the need to save half-opened bottles of wine for serving at a later date…and we've all had mixed results in keeping that wine fresh.
But no one should have to waste a bottle of good, or even semi-decent, wine. We tested some of the most frequently used and most affordable wine-storage options, and here's what we found for both red and white wine. The best method might surprise you!
For the low-budget (or lazy, or harried) oenophiles among us, recorking the wine bottle and storing it in the fridge will keep the wine bottle fresh for another day on average. You won't be able to remove air from the bottle by simply recorking it—and air is what causes oxidation, the process that makes wine turn sour. But the cold temperatures will slow down the oxidation process somewhat—and that holds true for red wine as well as white. So don't just store that opened bottle of Cabernet on the countertop; you might as well throw it out if you do.
To eke out a few more days of freshness, you'll be more successful if you use one of a number of fairly inexpensive gadgets. We tested the widely available VacuVin stopper (vacuums air out of the bottle and "corks" it with rubber); the inflatable-balloon-style Air Cork (creates an airtight seal inside the bottle); and the PlatyPreserve (stores the wine in an airtight bag) . All of these toys attempt to stop oxidation by extracting air from the bottle or blocking the air from hitting the wine's surface. And we've found that all of those methods will keep leftover wine fresh for up to three more days—but they work most effectively when the wine is stored in the refrigerator.
Of these three gadgets, the PlatyPreserve gets the slight edge for ease, effectiveness and portability. If you've ever squeezed air out of a Ziploc bag, you'll know how to use this—plus it takes up much less space than a wine bottle.
But the best way to save leftover wine only costs a few bucks more than keeping it in the bottle itself. And you don't need any special gadget—just a mason jar. What's the trick? Simply pour your wine into the jar, filling it as close to the brim as you possibly can, and store it in the fridge. The rings and lids on mason jars make an airtight seal, which works just as well for wine storage as it does for pickling or canning. So, how long will the wine keep? When we've used a mason jar, we've been able to keep our opened wine in near-perfect condition for up to five whole days—even though we very, very rarely need to store it for that long.